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What Can Be Done If a Parent Violates a Custody Order?

person in court

One of the most commonly asked questions by participants in child custody cases is “what can be done if the other parent violates a custody order?”  The answer to this question is two-fold. 

Show Cause Virginia

First, if a party willfully violates a court order they are subject to civil contempt proceedings. These are instituted by filing a Motion for Show Cause Summons with the court. At a Show Cause hearing, the violating party has the opportunity to explain their actions.

The court then issues the show cause summons and serves it on the individual who is in violation. If the court determines that the parent did in fact willfully violate the terms of the court order they are subject to incarceration for up to twelve months. The violating party may also have to pay attorney fees and costs to the party who brought the show cause action.

Secondly, pursuant to Virginia Section 18.2-49.1, a person who willfully violates a court order may be subject to criminal action.  In cases where the violation occurs outside the Commonwealth of Virginia, the violator can be found guilty of a Class 6 felony which carries up to five years in prison.  If the violation occurs inside Virginia, the offender is subject to a potential misdemeanor conviction.  In either case, the violator is subject to criminal conviction and prosecution for their actions.

A court order means nothing if it is not followed.  The difference between having what a court has already awarded you, and not having it at all is an attorney who knows how to enforce your rights.  The lawyers and Bush & Taylor know the law and will use it to your advantage.

See what the Virginia Code says about custody order violations.